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Hydrometeorological characteristics of rain-on-snow events associated with atmospheric rivers

Duane E. Waliser, F. Martin Ralph, Paul Neiman, Bin Guan, Eric J. Fetzer | March 29, 2016
Summary

Atmospheric rivers (ARs) are narrow, elongated, synoptic corridors of enhanced water vapor transport that play an important role in regional weather/hydrology. Rain-on-snow (ROS) events during ARs present enhanced flood risks due to the combined effects of rainfall and snowmelt. Focusing onCalifornias Sierra Nevada, the study identifies ROS occurrences and their connection with ARs during the 19982014 winters. AR conditions, which occur during 17% of all precipitation events, are associated with 50% of ROS events (25 of 50). Composite analysis shows that compared to ARs without ROS, ARs with ROS areon average warmer by ~2 K, with snow water equivalent loss of ~0.7 cm/d (providing 20% of the combined water available for runoff) and ~50% larger streamflow/precipitation ratios. Atmospheric Infrared Sounderretrievals reveal distinct offshore characteristics of the two types of ARs. The results highlight the potential value of observing these events for snow, rain, and flood prediction.

Product Description

Atmospheric rivers (ARs) are narrow, elongated, synoptic corridors of enhanced water vapor transport that play an important role in regional weather/hydrology. Rain-on-snow (ROS) events during ARs present enhanced flood risks due to the combined effects of rainfall and snowmelt. Focusing onCalifornias Sierra Nevada, the study identifies ROS occurrences and their connection with ARs during the 19982014 winters. AR conditions, which occur during 17% of all precipitation events, are associated with 50% of ROS events (25 of 50). Composite analysis shows that compared to ARs without ROS, ARs with ROS areon average warmer by ~2 K, with snow water equivalent loss of ~0.7 cm/d (providing 20% of the combined water available for runoff) and ~50% larger streamflow/precipitation ratios. Atmospheric Infrared Sounderretrievals reveal distinct offshore characteristics of the two types of ARs. The results highlight the potential value of observing these events for snow, rain, and flood prediction.

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Guan_et_al-2016-Geophysical_Research_Letters

Keywords:

atmospheric rivers, climate change, flood management, modeling, water supply forecasting